Luke Jackson Scouting Report (2014)
The Texas Rangers pitching staff has been decimated by injuries this year with Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Saunders all missing significant portions of the year. The struggles of Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross Jr., and Scott Baker haven’t helped. With Luke Jackson dominating his competition at Double-A Frisco, how much longer will it be before he is ready for big-league action?
Listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Jackson is maxed out in size after filling out significantly. Despite not having prototypical starter height, a high release point affords Jackson strong downward plane on his pitches. He also has some deception, with a bit of a funky delivery in which he brings the ball down past his hip before reaching back to his release point, hiding the ball well. Jackson is able to repeat his slightly unorthodox delivery on an every-pitch basis. The only potential problem is his high-effort delivery.
Sitting at 93-96 MPH, touching 98 at times, Jackson’s fastball is his best pitch. It features late, arm-side run, tailing in to right-handed batters. His command of the pitch is fully developed major-league ready. He is able to consistently spot the pitch at the knees, and on the outer edge. He rarely catches the middle of the plate with a fastball. Occasionally, Luke Jackson will add cutting action to the pitch, but loses command when this happens.
Jackson throws two different variations of his curveball. The one thrown most often features 12-6 break and is thrown through the zone with the hope of being called strike or inducing weak contact. The movement on the pitch is impressive, sometimes starting at the top of the zone and finishing at or below the knees. However, once the count gets to two strikes Jackson will mix in a harder curve with horizontal movement. At 78-81 mph, its sharper break makes it more of an out pitch. Curveball control/command is spotty as Jackson hangs it too often.
His change-up sits in the upper-70’s, a whopping 15-plus miles less than his fastball. With equivalent arm speed to the fastball, hitters have a difficult time picking up the pitch, Jackson’s change induces many swings and misses, and is used most often against left-handed batters. Command of the pitch is still a work in progress, but Jackson has been focusing on improving his feel for it.
Jackson changes speeds well. He’ll have at-bats where he goes from a mid-90s heater to a low-70s off-speed pitch before climbing the velocity ladder again. When able to command the entire arsenal, hitters appear uncomfortable in the box. Jackson’s willingness to start at-bats with off-speed stuff only amplifies this. Jackson has also used a slider in the past, but has been told to scrap it for now. At best his slider was a fringe offering, and it is not going to be more than a change of pace pitch if it is brought back into his repertoire down the line.
At the Major League level, Luke Jackson has the ceiling of a number two starter if things break right with a floor of high leverage relief pitcher. Tamping down the effort in his delivery, while continuing to develop secondary offerings is key to overall development. Just 22, and with the Rangers out of contention, the Rangers have no reason to rush the right-hander and risk stunting his development.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 3 Starter On First Division Team. Fastball 70 70 Curveball 45 55 Changeup 50 50 Control 50 55 Command 40 50
Owning Luke Jackson
Now a top Rangers prospect, the right-hander continues to prove doubters wrong by outperforming expectations. On paper, he presents as one of the elite arms in all of minor league baseball. Due to his development curve, Jackson won’t contribute in single season leagues in 2014, but is a strong own in keeper and dynasty formats. Betting on big arms is a smart play, but understand most pitching prospects fail and all of them will eventually succumb to injury. With Luke Jackson having effort in his delivery and elite velocity, the former first rounder is a higher injury risk than the average pitcher. However, navigating the risk successfully will reap an impressive reward.
6 Jun 2014 / Grant Schiller /
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